NORFOLK, Va. (WVEC) -- The holiday shopping season officially kicked off at the Norfolk Premium Outlets Friday.

It was complete with a tree lighting, fireworks, a visit from Santa and a celebrity musical performance.

The Outlets are hoping people come to see Santa and the tree and stay to shop at their more than 50 stores.

"The kids enjoy it, it obviously makes shopping more fun for them because they don't like shopping, getting drug around from store to store," said Heather Maserang of Virginia Beach.

"We're just hear to hear the music, walk around, shop a little bit, spend time as a family," said Amy-Marie Rossin of Chesapeake.

With more people turning to the Internet for holiday shopping, the Outlets must set themselves apart. One way to do that was handing out $4,000 worth of gift certificates.

The Outlets also wanted to reach out to their community's large military presence.
Veterans, Grace and Ken Wright and their children, were Friday's official guests of honor. They represent Operation Homefront.

"I got goosebumps when I went on stage, I never had them before," said Ken Wright.
"It's not about me, its about those guys and women who are serving."

Joined alongside the Wright family for the festivities was country singer Lauren Duski from The Voice.

People in the audience said you can't get this experience shopping on line.

"I just fell in love with her, her spirit, everything, all her music, so sincere from the heart," said fan Shannon Gibbs.

Duski said she was honored to be part of the fun.

'It's pretty incredible to see everyone come together and celebrate the veterans and this beautiful new space, the best time of year and the best people," said Duski.

The Norfolk Premium Outlets will continue to host a variety of activities from face painting, to elves on stilts to Santa on Saturday.

People are also encouraged to drop off a new unwrapped toy for Operation Homefront, which helps military families in need.

Festivities continue on Saturday from noon to 5 p.m. Guests can see Santa and Mrs. Clause, Doorway Signers, The Jangling Reinharts, and of course, do some holiday shopping.